Daniel Amen: Change Your Brain, Change Your Life @ TEDxOrangeCoast (Transcript)

Because when you question your thoughts, you live in a more rational world.

Here are examples of three 60-year-old brains. One with Alzheimer’s disease. One that is overweight, that has sleep apnea, which is a disaster for brain function. And a healthy scan. Which brain do you want?

I know which brain I want.

Here are five ways brain imaging will change everything you do.

The first thing, it will give you brain envy. So, I started doing scans in 1991. And I was 37 years old, and I scanned my own brain.

And I looked at it, compared to a lot of other scans, and I went, “Yuck, too many bumps, bumpy places.” And I’ve actually never drank. I got drunk when I was 16, I had a hangover for five days. I went, “This is not for me.”

Never smoked, never did drugs. I’m like, “Why does my brain look so bad?”

But at the time, I had a lot of bad brain habits. I only slept four or five hours a night because I was driven. I was drinking diet soda like she was my best friend. And I carried more weight, was under chronic stress, and it showed.

And so, since I saw my scan, and developed brain envy, at 52, I scanned myself again, and it’s much younger. My brain looks better.

And you know, you can do that. That’s the cool thing about the brain. You’ve probably heard about brain plasticity.

But if you make good decisions today, we found this out with our NFL study, that you can start to improve your brain within two months. It’s like, how exciting is that?

And, with a better brain, everything in your life is better — from your body to your money, to your relationships, to the level of innovation.

The second thing is, since brain imaging, I would never let my kids play tackle football.

When does the brain finish developing? 25. Your brain, and in males, some people think it’s more like 28.

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So the idea that you are an adult at 18, from a neuroscience perspective, is just flat-out stupid. And the insurance companies know that.

When do your insurance rates change and stabilize? 25. Why? Because you’re making better decisions. And the decisions you make are a brain function. So do not let your kids put their brains at risk.

You’ll take environmental toxins so much more seriously. This is one of the firefighters that we scanned recently. And you see this overall low activity. Those holes? He doesn’t have physical holes in his brain. What he has is serious overall low activity.

You’ll take your weight a whole bunch more seriously. And you’ll think about the early detection and prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is expected to triple in the next 25 years. We cannot afford this. And how you prevent Alzheimer’s disease, is you prevent all the illnesses that are associated with it, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure.

So, how to create a brain-smart world to accelerate individuals?

This is my goal. And we see individuals and families at the Amen Clinics, but we’re very interested in schools, in churches, businesses, and communities.

And, I love this. Andy came to see me about four months ago. First time, about ten years ago, when he was 53, and his brain just looked awful. And I got him to buy into the program of brain health. And, this is what his brain looked like ten years later. Isn’t that cool?

And I want to talk about getting systems involved. So, I was working on my new show. And while I was working on my show, I went to church.

And my wife said she’d drop Chloe off, our seven-year-old, at children’s church, and I would go save us seats. And, it’s at a very large church nearby, and it’s not Saddleback.

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And as I walked into church, I passed 500 donuts for sale. And I was just irritated.

And then I walked by bacon and sausage cooking on the grill. And I’m furious.

And right before I go into the sanctuary, they’re cooking hundreds of hot dogs for something after church.

And as I sat down in the sanctuary, the minister started talking about the ice cream festival they had the night before. And, I’m nearly psychotic at this point.

And when my wife found me, I was typing on my phone, which she hates. And she gave me that look that only your wife can give you, that said, “Why the hell are you on this thing in church?”

And I showed her what I was writing: “Go to church, get donuts, sausage, bacon, hot dogs, ice cream. They have no idea. They’re sending people to heaven early!” It’s like, not the plan.

And I have no idea what the minister said the rest of that service. I just sat there, praying that God would use me to change churches. Because this isn’t the plan.

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